Two Fridays ago, the UK secured its first guilty verdict for FGM after a mother subjected her three-year-old daughter to what is a horrific act of violence. As a result of her injuries and blood loss, this little girl was taken to hospital where, thank God, medics alerted the police.
FGM has slipped through the net in the past, perhaps because it is regarded as a “rite of passage”. But the truth is that it is appalling, brutal child abuse.
It needs to stop. And, thank goodness, the world is waking up to that fact.
Nimco Ali, social activist and co-founder and the director of the Daughters of Eve non-profit organisation, and Helen Whately, Conservative Party Vice Chair for Women, should both be applauded for tirelessly raising this issue.
And also the Government, for driving action against FGM globally.
Since 2013, the UK has committed £85million to support the African-led movement to end FGM, including a package of £50million, the biggest single investment by any international donor, which is something to be proud of.
This mother’s conviction was a landmark moment. But the fact that it was the first highlights how much more there is to do to protect girls at risk of FGM.
Last week marked International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM, which shows progress, but the reason such a day is needed is because there is still much more to be done.
Which brings me to the one step backwards.
On Friday, Conservative MP Sir Christopher Chope, the politician perhaps best known for objecting to a bill to outlaw upskirting, stood in the way of legislation designed to protect children from FGM.
Specifically, he blocked a bill tabled by crossbench peer Lord Berkeley to allow courts to issue protection orders if a child is at risk of FGM.
Sir Christopher does not object to all private members’ bills — if they are proposed by his friends, they get through the net.
It would be pretty hard to argue that this can only be a good thing. And yet Sir Christopher objected to the bill ahead of its second reading in the House of Commons.
This is despite the Government supporting the proposed legislation and wanting to see it pass as a private member’s bill, which is why Government whips reportedly tried to persuade Sir Christopher to drop his objections.
But Sir Christopher does not believe private members’ bills are the proper way to amend legislation, because he does not think they receive proper scrutiny.
He has said in the past that even if he backs the intent of a bill, he objects to them because he does not support the procedural principle of legislation being passed without debate at second reading.
To be clear, the World Health Organisation says there is no medical justification for FGM and the procedure violates the human rights of women and girls. Seriously, what is there to debate about whether the horrendous torture of young women should be allowed or not?
If Sir Christopher wants to make a point, why doesn’t he do it on less important legislation? I’m pretty sure that if he understood the issues he simply would not bring his point on principal. But also, when you take a stand like this, you really need to be consistent.
But apparently Sir Christopher does not object to all private members’ bills — if they are proposed by his friends, they get through the net.
Unfortunately, with double standards like that it would easy to think he simply doesn’t care about the rights of women and girls — which surely can’t be the case — can it?
Parents needed to do more
THE Michael Jackson interview, where he was asked directly about his relationship with some of the boys he has been accused of molesting, made for uncomfortable viewing.
His nervous giggling on being questioned about molestation allegations against Macaulay Culkin, Jordan Chandler and Brett Barnes comes across as very creepy.
But also, you seriously have to wonder why ANY parent would allow their child to stay over at a 40-year-old man’s house, no matter how immensely wealthy or famous he was.
I guess they were wowed by fame – and perhaps Jackson was just hiding in plain sight.
Should they really be driving?
WATCHING the footage of three young men very gently and kindly helping an 89-year-old woman and her 100-year-old husband into their car at a Florida petrol station was touching.
But although it was a very nice gesture, I’m sure I’m not the only person wondering whether, if they can’t even get IN the car without help, they should they really be driving at all?
TV girls have no limits
JOHN HUMPHRYS is finally going to retire from Radio 4’s Today programme – at the grand old age of 75.
Yes, he is a great presenter and everything, but it slightly sticks in my craw that you don’t see female presenters anywhere near that age on radio or TV. The good news is, that is changing.
Fiona Bruce is now presenting Question Time (replacing David Dimbleby who was 80) and Kirsty Wark and Emily Maitlis are presenting Newsnight.
There is a new generation of women who are being given a voice – and it’s bloody brilliant.
Here’s hoping that when it comes to their retirement age, the sky’s the limit (if they want it to be, that is.)
Justice served on car killer
FOR once, a punishment that fits the crime.
Osian Hicks-Thomas has been jailed for six years for killing Rebecca Louise Edwards, 34, on December 21 last year when he smashed into her VW Golf while high on alcohol and cocaine.
This poor woman suffered serious head injuries in the collision, dying instantly, – while Hicks-Thomas, 21, fled the scene.
He was arrested later, after having made his way to a relative’s house and, thankfully, justice has been served.
If you get behind a wheel drunk and high on cocaine and you kill someone, that is murder – plain and simple.
I despise drink-driving.
I would never even have a sip and get behind the wheel.
And the taxi driver who had driven him to his car and knew he was intending to drive it should have reported him to the police before he got behind the wheel and killed someone.
Clowns at councils
AT a time when swimming pools and libraries are routinely being closed – and some people only have their rubbish collected every few weeks – some local councils have forked out on consultants to analyse a clown festival and devise a pantomime strategy.
Figures released this week showed that council spending on consultants swelled to nearly £400million last year, despite central government urging local authorities to prioritise funds for pressurised front-line services.
Clown festival analysis? Pantomime strategy?
It’s blatantly obvious the money could be better spent.
Local councils should publish their intended spending and people should vote on it – and then they should be held accountable.
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